A biologist next to me on a plane once told me that there are more bacteria in the human body than human cells. Why don’t we just look like big blobs of bacteria then? Well, he explained, rather condescendingly I might add, that human cells are larger than bacteria, duh! How comforting!
In light of these scientific facts I embrace the idea of being the container for a very populated micro universe. And as the custodian of this universe I strive to feed and nurture it well. My only regret is not having discovered the culinary skills and joys of rotten food sooner.
Since choice of food has long been recognized as an important element on the road to sustainability, it makes sense that sooner or later fermentation is considered. Of course those of you who eat bread, cheese and spirits have already made that leap, but probably don’t know you have.
As I’ve integrated fermentation into my kitchen and altered my palette, my diet has changed. Flat bread made with sprouted, fermented legumes is now my dietary staple. BC (before cultured foods) it was brown rice and a bowl of beans. How I ever digested those things is beyond me. The more I go back to the roots of eating food as it was traditionally eaten the better I feel. For millennia food has evolved away from being healthy and fresh and toward being convenient and easy to store, and deliver. Real food supports a strong immune system and creates little mucus. TMI I know but an important fact. So now I keep a big bowl of the sprouted and fermented batter in the fridge and cook it up on a flat grill as needed. In case you think real food is tasteless listen to this: savory garbanzo curry bread, lentil rosemary, onion cilantro, basil olive and sweet cinnamon raisin. My other specialty is buckwheat waffles I make with sprouted and fermented buckwheat, coconut milk and very little else. Continue Reading »
If you are limited in time or money, waiting for the right materials to show up can be a problem. If you live near several re-use facilities (dump, Re-Store, Thrift stores, etc) then your chances improve, but you still need the luxury of time to visit them regularly in search of the treasures you need. The more flexible you have with your design the easier your search will be. You can also start collecting material before you finish your design so you can factor in the sizes and shapes of things you’ve found.
I bought the hard wood floor for my tiny house from a guy on Craigslist before I was even sure I had the courage and money to start build. The poetry of buying a floor for a house that didn’t exist was lost on me since I was busy having an anxiety attack. Being unemployed and dropping $150 for oak flooring seemed imprudent, impractical and absolutely crazy given my lack of building experience. I actually doubted my sanity for a few weeks after. The thought occurred to me I might be having some kind of late mid-life crises or nervous breakdown triggered by a bad economy.
A week later, I won the money back when my brother dragged me off to a casino to celebrate his birthday. My shouts of “come on hard wood floor” got me some strange looks, but in the end Lady Luck blessed me with a full refund for the 13 boxes of oak which I took as a sign of encouragement.
So off I went, slightly more confident in my sanity, in search of Re-Stores where I purchased a baby bay window (bay-be says my friend Perry) in Oakland. If it hadn’t been the exact window I had been pricing on line for thousands of dollars I would have walked away in fear. But instead I bought it for $350. In Pasadena, I found the perfect French door which was the exact size I needed and even the color I wanted, for only $100. No fear with this purchase, because I was in a state of incredulous bliss. I couldn’t get out of there with my new door fast enough. Because I kept finding the exact things I needed, I thought I might be dreaming and if I didn’t hurry I was going to wake up before I got the house built.
So there I was with a floor, a door, and a bay-be window and no house. So I stacked it near the rest of our stuff in a warehouse we were borrowing. Then it occurred to me that the warehouse was the place to build. I blame the Vegas heat for the slow uptake. And I took another huge leap of faith. I bought a custom built trailer.
A House is Only as Good as its Foundation:
Unless you know a whole lot about trailers, can weld, or you find a hefty used trailer please spend the extra bucks to get a good one to build your house on. Even if you plan on not moving your house much remember this is the foundation of your home. You will want it to be strong and sturdy for a long time. Travel trailers with the top removed are not strong enough to hold 2×4 framing. They are designed to be light weight and hold flimsy aluminum siding with virtually no insulation and very little weight. You will also want to take weight distribution into consideration, while designing your house. You don’t want your house to be heavier on one side than the other for example. Ask a trucker or search how to load a trailer to learn more about the importance of weight placement. Learning these things can save your house and possibly lives. If you are building over 20 feet long you should also consider a triple axle (6 wheels total). I went out of my way to get a custom trailer and I still had trouble. Make sure you have someone who knows axles look over your trailer and determine if it is road worthy and capable of holding heavy framing and siding. And of course, get good tires.
Why Used Wood Can Be a Problem:
Wood is porous. That means things get down in it, grow in it, live in it. Old wood is beautiful but can harbor mold, pesticides, bugs and general rot. If you are chemically sensitive that can be just as bad or worse than the VOCs of new wood. Since alternative, safe building materials barely exist and are extremely expensive the other option is regular lumber. Paying attention to these details can keep you from getting sick later on. Mold can kill. Termites can turn your house into Swiss cheese.
Take into consideration your practical and aesthetic needs, space constraints etc. Then research materials and their uses and limitations. You can of course get creative with things, but make sure you know what you are doing. I almost glued down my hardwood floor because I couldn’t get a nail through the boards. Then I realized that wood contracts and expands with the weather. Glue would probably not have worked well. Wood comes in a wide variety of types. Some are heavier, others lighter. Certain wood works better for exteriors and others better for interiors. There are wood varieties that repel bugs (Cedar) and some that work better than others near water.
One thing I highly recommend buying used is cabinets. I bought 5 of them for my house from 2 restores and the dump for an approximate total of $150. That is less than any one of them would have cost new. I cleaned them well and painted them and they are my kitchen cabinets and counter top holders. One is in the bathroom for a kitchen closet/medicine chest. Because they are not made with press board or heavy wood they are lighter than anything I could have figured out how to build myself and they make my house both practical and beautiful.
Sometimes it makes sense to buy used and recycle and other times not. Consider how long you want your house to last realistically. Remember – using quality materials can make the difference between having a box on wheels when you finish or a cozy, healthy, beautiful, home.
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful — William Morris
Be sure and read Catherine Zola blog here: CatsTinyHome
Two years ago I was elated to open up a Christmas gift from my wife and find a Kindle HD. I had been sort of hinting at an eReader for a few months as I hadn’t quite taken to my iPad and wasn’t sure I was going to. I like the size of the Kindle better and felt it traveled a bit better than the iPad.
Nearly a year ago now I started working with Kent Griswold of Tiny House Blog to produce the Tiny House Magazine. A beautiful eZine, it was first just available through Apple iTunes but after 3 issues or so became more widely available as a PDF each month. This opened up the magazine to almost everyone and anyone with access to some sort of PDF reader. Because it didn’t say it was suitable for the Kindle I didn’t immediately put 2+2 together. That is when I started doing some digging and with the help of Logan Smith found out how to transfer a PDF to the Kindle and then later how to transfer my Kindle library to my iPad. This meant I would be able to read every version of the magazine anywhere on any device.
The Traditional Method
1. Convert the desired document into a PDF, if it is not already in that format.
Open the document you wish to convert to a PDF in its standard program (usually Acrobat Reader). Go to FILE button and click on the SAVE selection in the drop down menu. If PDF is an available file format, select it and you have made a PDF. If PDF is not an available format, you may need to install PDF conversion software. Fortunately most documents that you download (think of an eBook) or are sent are already in PDF format.
2. Attach your Kindle to your computer. Do this using the Kindle’s standard USB cord. Make sure to turn your Kindle on after it is connected.
3. Open your Kindle documents. The Kindle icon will either appear on your computer, or an alert window will pop up, asking you if you want to view the documents in the Kindle. You want to open the kindle and view the documents as files.
4. Open the Documents folder. This will bring you to where all your E-reading material is stored.
5. Find the PDF you just made. Click on the PDF file to select it. Now drag the file into your Kindle Documents folder. The PDF will now automatically sync with your Kindle. Close the Documents folder.
6. Disconnect your Kindle. If using a Mac, simply click the Kindle icon and drag it to the trash. If using a PC, click on the Safely Remove Hardware icon, and select Eject Amazon Kindle. You may now disconnect the device from your computer.
Now when you power up your Kindle you will find your PDF listed in the available-to-read documents.
The Way I Do It
Because I first lost my USB cable to my Kindle Fire and then ultimately ended up getting some burned pixels on the screen of my KF I decided to make a headfirst dive into my iPad. Because Tiny House Magazine is available for the iOS I was able to read every magazine from that month forward via my iOS subscription through Newsstand. However, my archive issues were still in PDF and I wanted access to those as well.
Enter Send to Kindle.
Reading your documents and web content on Kindle has never been easier. You can use Send to Kindle applications to read on your Kindle devices and free reading apps on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android. Because of this one App I am able to view Tiny House magazine on my desktop, my iPhone, my iPad, and my wife’s iPod Touch. It is really great. And it is really easy to use. In fact, if you direct your browser to http://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle you will find step-by-step instruction for every iteration of the download there is. In fact, I was able to set up Send to Kindle on my MacBook Pro in about 3 minutes and have since enjoyed sending every PDF and book I purchase through the Kindle store directly to my iPad. Nothing more than dragging, dropping, and reading.
Nine PDF Issues for the price of eight $24
The Tiny House Magazine is a PDF File and not available as a printed magazine
Who doesn’t love a cabin? They’re the home away from home, a place to get away from it all, and for those considering investing in a cabin, compared to traditional suburban homes, they’re quite inexpensive.
Of course, the cost of building depends on how you go about doing it, as well as what you want to get out of it. There are several companies that produce cabin kits at relatively low cost. Alternatively, you can buy the lumber yourself and build a cabin to your exacting specifications. Either way you do it, there are advantages and disadvantages for both types of cabin.
The Cabin Kit
Since most cabin kits come with all the wood you’ll need, you shouldn’t’ have to worry about not having that “right” piece. It keeps things organized and can be less stressful, especially if it’s your first time building a cabin.
It’s relatively affordable versus going à la carte on timber and miscellaneous wood products. Of course, affordability is dependent on the size of kit you choose. A smaller cabin kit may run a few thousand dollars, while larger, more intricate kits may run tens of thousands of dollars. Regardless, it still a frugal choice.
It’s accessible. Building a cabin is much easier that building a typical suburban home. Yes, you can make your cabin more complex, but for the average person who doesn’t want to complicate things, a cabin can be one of the easiest large structures to build.
Kit cabins are generally on the small side. If you need space, you may have to look elsewhere. Or, you could purchase several kit cabins and interconnect them, but that may stretch the practicality of buying a kit cabin in the first place.
Kit cabins are designed to specification. They’re commonly four walls and a roof, meaning if you want more, you’ll have to put in the work.
You’re cabin will look identical to someone else’s. However, chances are the home you currently live in looks identical to someone else’s anyway (unless it was custom built), so this likely isn’t a big deal.
The Conventional Cabin
Build it as you like. You’re only limited by your imagination and your budget. You can build a more complex structure than a kit and imbue it with subtle characteristics and charm and make it truly your own.
You are in control of the materials. You get to choose every piece of wood used in the project. You are quality control. If something doesn’t work, it can be easily swapped out during the construction process.
It can get very expensive. Unless you adhere very strictly to your plans, even small changes can rack up bills. On that note, you’ll need to develop a plan, a blue print and design. This can be a time consuming process, and in some areas, it may need approval before construction can begin.
Building from scratch is more complicated in general, as well, and can prove to be a stressful experience. However, the results tend to make it worth it.
Of course, there are a plenty of issues log cabin owners will encounter regardless of if they build with a kit or not. If not properly maintain, the wood will deteriorate over time. The less maintenance, the quicker they tend to degrade. Many factors contribute to degradation, from moisture in the air to wood eating insects.
These issues shouldn’t serve as a deterrent, rather, they should be considered before investing in a cabin. Though the initial cabin construction costs are relatively low, the maintenance cost can be high, if improperly done. Essentially, you’ll get out of it what you put in.